Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pereira Barreto and Voting Day

The highway was often lined with trees destined
for the paper factory.

October 28th found Dad packing up for another trip. This time Joy was his traveling buddy. Their main destination was Pereira Barreto, a city three and a half hours away.

Crossing the state line.

However, since Três Lagoas is just a few kilometers from Pereira, Dad left a day early in order to be able cross over into the state of Mato Grosso do Sul and  spend a few hours with Bro. Marcelo and his family.
Welcome to Pereira Barreto!

The city of Pereira Barreto, like many in this region, has its name written in large cement letters at the entrance to the city. 
One of the main roads in Pereira

Pereira  is a small city with strong oriental influences. At one time, the city thrived on agriculture, but the building of a hydroelectric dam in the early 1990's flooded many of the farms surrounding the city.

A clock with four faces built to remember
the Japanese who first settled the region.

Today many of the people of Pereira earn their livelihood by working at the hydroelectric dam, a nearby sugarcane processing plant, or one of the fisheries, which raise tilapia for meat.

Bro. Marcio and Dad having a good talk.

 As usual, Bro. Marcio and his family were happy to have Dad and Joy stay in their home during their time in Pereira.

Sis. Suzzette and Mariana

Bro. Marcio spends his mornings working at a local bank and the afternoons he dedicates to doing engineering work for the city. His wife is Sis. Suzette, and they have two children. Pedro, the oldest son, lives on his own and is currently preparing for college. Mariana, the daughter, is sixteen. She is an excellent student, and one day would like to enter the field of dentistry. 
The church building.

The First Free Baptist Church in Pereira has been around for many years. In recent years, the church has been without a pastor, but the Lord has given Bro. Marcio and several other men in the church grace to lead and do the preaching.

The book table.

Dad and Joy had the pleasure of participating in the Saturday evening service and the two Sunday services, while they were in Pereira.

 Bro. Daniel running the counter at the
Sweet Summer icecream store.

Before leaving Pereira, Dad had to make his customary stop by the icecream shop belonging to a family in the church. It provided a tasty treat... 

Bro. Davi who also works at the icecream shop.

....and a good time of fellowship.

Vote me into the city council!

During the trip to and also from Pereira, Joy had fun looking at the political propaganda in each city. Candidates for mayor's office and the city council print their names and numbers on bumper stickers, posters,flags,....

Elect me for mayor!

... and even on big plastic balls, which are carried around on the main roads.

This candidate says "Put me in office and I'll protect animals!"

Of all the political propaganda that she saw, Joy decided that she liked this one on the left the best. I believe her reasoning is that anyone who loves dachshunds would be a good politician. :)

Papers, papers everywhere!

Speaking of politicians, today was voting day here in Brazil. David and I, like all other Brazilians between eighteen and sixty-five years of age, are required to vote. The citizen who does not vote is fined approximately $1.55.  The night before the elections take place, even though it is prohibited, political fliers from all candidates are generously scattered around buildings where voting is going to take place.

Public school open for voting.

All the voters in a city are assigned a place to vote, usually it is a public school usually near where they live. On election day, voters have between 7 am and 4 pm to show up at their school and vote in their assigned classroom. David and I have developed the habit of always voting in the morning. There is usually a line of people waiting to vote leading up to our classroom door and the line generally grows longer as the day progresses.

Waiting in line to vote.
There is a good deal of corruption here in Brazil. One of the first times that I voted, thousands of the ballots disappeared and when they were found, they were all in favor of one candidate. That candidate won the election, and nothing more was done about the disappearance of the ballots. Since that election there have been elections that seem to be less corrupt, but still there is that nagging question in my mind and I am sure in other people’s minds as well “Does my vote really make a difference or is the election rigged?”.

Despite all this, voting day usually holds a smile for me. Four or five voters are generally allowed into each classroom at a time. They each hand their voter’s registration card to the two or three election officials behind the table, and then wait to be called up to vote. The first time I voted here in Presidente Prudente the head official called up the people ahead of me by name. “João, you can vote now…. Sueli, you can vote now…Sergio, your turn…” Then he came to my card, my name has a “ch” in it and Brazilians have no idea how to pronounce it. The official looked at my card for an extra long time, then he passed it to the man beside him. The second man carefully looked at the card, then shook his head and passed it back to the first official. The first man looked up at me and said “You can vote now”. Almost every election since then that same head official has been in my classroom. He doesn’t even look very long at my card anymore. He simply looks at me and says “You can vote now”, and I smile.  :D